TOP 10 MAFIA & GANGSTER GAMES


For this list, we’ll be focusing on the best games that feature tropes and characters related to organized crime from across the globe. Given the subject matter, some mature content follows.


  1. What “GTA III” started, “San Andreas” perfected. Set in a fictionalized version of California during the 1990s, this game is one of the ambitious and controversial of its generation. The protagonist, Carl “CJ” Johnson, is a multi-faceted character who’s just looking to do right by his family, but ends up getting dragged into the underworld by a huge cast of unsavory characters. Players are given more freedom than ever to customize everything from their cars to their appearance as they guide CJ through an exciting and politically-charged story that escalates from turf wars to airplane shootouts to an all out riot. With memorable characters and engrossing locations, “San Andreas” is a gangster’s paradise. Eeeexcept for that one train mission.


  2. After a first instalment that was acclaimed for its engrossing story and attention to detail (x-ref), developer 2K Czech created an even more ambitious sequel. Players take on the role of Vito Scaletta, a World War II vet plunged into a life of crime in order to pay his father’s debts. The game’s sprawling story spans several years and takes you through the highs and lows of being a gangster. It also features several effective character moments that build Vito’s relationships with his fellow Mafiosi. Mob movies talk about the importance of family, but Mafia II makes you feel like you’re part of one. Just be sure to obey those traffic laws.


  3. One of the first 3D gangster games is also one of the best. Despite being the third entry in the series, GTA III is where the franchise came into its own, creating a new genre of open-world action games last. The game gave players the ability to explore the entirety of Liberty City, with plenty of cars to race, gangs to fight, and targets to assassinate. The story is a well-plotted tale of revenge, but it was the open world sandbox and infinite gameplay possibilities that kept players coming back for more. Gangsters are known for doing what they want, when they want, and GTA III was one of the first games to give players that sense of freedom.


  4. This game has more wordplay than the Scrabble World Championship. A neo-noir third-person shooter that owes as much to film as it does to videogames, “Max Payne” tells the story of, well, Max Payne, a grizzled cop whose parents must’ve had a wicked sense of humor. After the death of his family at the hands of violent junkies, Max is forced to clear his name and seek vengeance on the people who wronged him. Gameplay mixes the stylish gunfights of a John Woo movie with the slow-motion action of “The Matrix”, all presented in the form of an over-the-top film noir. A gritty crime saga with moments of self-aware humor; Max’s pain is definitely our gain.


  5. Probably the only gangster game that doubles as a disco star simulator. This prequel to the long running Japanese series tells the origins story of a young Kazuma Kiryu & Goro Majima in a story that deftly mixes brutal drama with zany humor. Yakuza’s simple but fun combat returns, along with a huge variety of places to explore and minigames to play. The side quests are more than just fun distractions, however, as each one helps to immerse the player fully into the game’s late 80’s world. The different gameplay styles allow for constant fun and surprises, and the story expertly weaves the lives of its protagonists together for a one-of-a-kind experience.


  6. One of the best gangster movies of all time also got one of the best game adaptations of all time. As a fully customizable member of the Corleone crime family, players can live out and participate in some of the most memorable scenes in the film, including the placing of a certain horse’s head in a certain bed. Adding to the authenticity is the return of several actors from the original film, including Robert Duvall, James Caan, and even the legendary Marlon Brando, who reprises his iconic role as Don Corleone one last time. Combined with solid gameplay and a beautifully realized 1940s era New York City, playing this game is an offer you can’t refuse.


  7. The only thing more dangerous than a gun-toting gangster, is a gun-toting gangster who’s mastered martial arts. “Sleeping Dogs” puts players in the shoes, and occasionally bare feet, of Wei Shen, an undercover cop who navigates both the densely packed streets of Hong Kong and the complicated hierarchy of the local Triads. The bone-crunching fighting, over the top driving, and acrobatic shooting are entertaining on their own, but it’s the tense story and unique, fully realized setting that are the real stars of the show. Hong Kong feels as lively as the real thing, and Wei Shen is a great character with real motivations. Now, if only his singing was as good as his fighting…


  8. When Grand Theft Auto got gritty, its rival got wacky. The sequel to a competent GTA clone, “Saints Row 2” is when the series made a name for itself as a crime simulator that, refreshingly, doesn’t take itself seriously. As the leader of the Third Street Saints, you’ll embark on the usual open world missions as you take over the city of Stilwater. However, the real fun begins when you start unlocking ludicrous side missions, including committing insurance fraud by rag-dolling all over traffic, spraying sewage at suburban houses, and car-surfing. All of which can be done naked, by the way. So if you’re tired of grim color palettes and angsty heroes, give this overlooked gem a try.


  9. Move over 50 Cent; Tony Montana’s the original bulletproof gangster. In this sequel to the classic 80s mob film, the Cuban-American kingpin survives the big shootout at his Miami mansion, and rebuilds his empire while tearing down everyone who wronged him. Ridiculous premise aside, “The World is Yours” successfully captures the neon and synth infused tone of the film, giving the game a unique personality. Combined with solid open world driving and shooting, as well as an uncanny Al Pacino impression by Andre Sogliuzzo, “Scarface” is a licensed game that, like its protagonist, fought against all odds to come out on top, with some help from his little friend, of course.


  10. We can definitely dig it. Based on the ultra-stylish cult classic film of the same name, this third person brawler doesn’t just retell the movie; it expands on it. Players take the on the role of several members of the Warriors, a gang whose bonds of brotherhood are just as tight as their sweet vests. Forced to make their way back home after a being framed for murder, the Warriors will fight, run, and tag their way through a dilapidated New York City, all while facing off against several other eccentric and colorful gangs. The game’s gonzo atmosphere, deep fighting system, and mission variety make for a brutally fun ride, whether you’re bopping alone or with a friend.

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TOP 10 MAFIA & GANGSTER GAMES

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